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Fatma Mohammed Al Saleh: The Temple Run
October 17, 2014
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It was just another day. Strolling back towards what I called home for this month. It’s more of a house. There seemed to be no kind of emotional attachment. Rather I might have wanted to distance myself from it.

For it was empty of all the love, craziness, and long sleepless fun nights I spent back home. Walking through that door made me homesick. Literally sick.

It’s not that I didn’t like the girls there; on the contrary I saw many potential friendships.

That day we decided to go to see a temple that was located just across the lake. The temple of the tooth. So I changed out of my scrubs as my friends waited in the living room and hopped in a tuk-tuk towards the temple. It was just 10 minutes away.

So we got there and started walking towards the main gate. I saw the large white building laced with a yellow golden colour. It had large pillars all around. All white. The top of it was decorated by many beautiful looking statues.

As we got closer we saw a big crowd standing at the gate. The men on one side and the women on the other. Every person was dressed decently and was calmly standing in a not so organised line.

The ladies wore white saris decorated in silver beads. They held some kind of flower in their hands. Purple petals. Rich green stem. A lily maybe.

So we stood there too. As we approached the security check the policewoman kept glancing at us every few seconds. I knew she had something to say. Just at the step of wooden booth she pointed at her head in a circular motion signalling our Hijab and shook her finger and head from side to side. “Take it off, no head cover inside. Only on shoulder” she said with a straight face.

My jaw dropped and many heads turned and looked at us as if we just landed from a UFO. We answered her by saying that she can check whatever she wants but we will keep it on. She refused so we walked away.

As I was stepping aside from the line a man told me “take it off take it off they will let you in.” It was very strange to hear him say that as if I was wearing an offensive shirt or showing off too much skin! As if he was requesting something normal.

I raised my hand and held the side of my scarf. Without raising my voice, I replied in a firm way “This is not a game, this is my religion!” And walked away. Some other people laughed at us while others pointed.

What has happened to us Muslims being chucked around harassed and treated with prejudice? They want people to dress modestly there and cover up, but too much of that is not okay? How ironic.
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Fatma Mohammed Al Saleh, a 22-year-old Emirati medical student,
is training in general surgery as part of her programme in Sri Lanka.
She is a passionate photographer and writer. Fatma shares her deeply
felt experiences about the healthcare system in Lanka.

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